Vikes clash with T-Birds in regular season showdown

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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

October 16, 2013, VICTORIA (ISN) – The regular season finale is drawing near and it begins with the first two of three final games between the University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey team and long-time rivals the UBC Thunderbirds this weekend Oct. 19-20. The T-Birds will host the Vikes for a pair of games at Wright Field with CIS championship seeding on the line.

The Vikes and Thunderbirds are currently tied in the regular season standings with 4-0-1 records and 13 points after wins four wins over Calgary and a recorded draw from their Sept. 28 match up. Over the next two weeks the T-Birds and Vikes will go head-to-head three times with the best-of-three winner earning the top-seed at the CIS national championship, hosted in Victoria Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

The Vikes are coming off a six-point weekend after defeating the winless Calgary Dinos 3-1 and 4-1 on Oct. 12 and 13, respectively. Six different Vikes contributed on the scoreboard including a two-goal performance from forward Emily Fisher in Sunday’s affair. The Vikes were forced to compete without fifth-year captain and central midfielderKyla Kirby but her presence will be expected this weekend in the perennial showdown.

The Thunderbirds are on the hunt for their third-straight and 15th overall McCrae Cup, while the Vikes’ 11th and most national recent title came in 2008. All members of the current Vikes squad are without championship-wining experience, while all but three have previously competed at a CIS Championship.

National team commitments have forced the T-Birds to showcase a different line up almost every weekend of play so far. This weekend UBC will miss the talents of Canada West leading goal scorers Kate Gillis and Hannah Haughn, midfielder Abi Raye, as well as defenders Sara McManus and Rachel Donohoe. All five players are currently competing with Canada in Perth, Australia for the International Super Series Hockey 9s.

Despite the absences, the Thunderbirds will gain back national team players Shanlee Johnston and Nat Sourisseau, who were absent in September for the Pan American Cup but are not competing in the Hockey 9s tournament.

Consistency for the defending national champions has lied with island natives and seniors Caitlin Evans, in the midfield, and Miranda Mann, in the backfield. In addition, the T-Birds boast Bea Francisco in goal who brings international experience from both the senior and junior level.

As for the visiting Vikes, team Canada has yet to interrupt the 18-member squad. Five Vikes currently lead the team in scoring with two goals each including Amanda Kurianowicz, Kathleen Leahy, Marin Davidson, Kirby and Fisher, while goalkeeper Sheriden Goodmanson has started all four conference games and has tallied two shutouts.

This weekend the T-Birds and Vikes will play on both Oct. 19 and 20 at 1 p.m. at Wright Field in Vancouver, B.C. Following this weekend, UBC will trek across the pond to visit the Vikes for a single header on Oct. 26 at 12:30 p.m. The leader following the next three games will earn the top seed at the CIS national championship.